Elusive articles in Sulawesi: between syntax and prosody


  • René van den Berg


Article-like elements ... occur in the 1,200+ languages of the Austronesian family (spoken in insular Southeast Asia and most of the Pacific), but their function is usually very different from that of the articles of Indo-European languages. In some Austronesian languages (especially in Oceania) such morphemes appear to be little else than simply noun markers or ‘signs of nominality’, adding little or no meaning to the clause apart from making the word class explicit. The typologically somewhat unexpected behaviour of these morphemes in Austronesian has also led to considerable terminological variation, especially in the Philippines, where these NP introducing morphemes have been classified as case markers, articles, determiners, phrase markers, case particles, construction markers and much more (see Reid 2002 for a survey). In Sulawesi (eastern Indonesia) we find a number of Austronesian languages which have noun-introducing morphemes which are hard to describe, as they perform unclear or unexpected functions, even from an Austronesian perspective. This paper looks at such elusive morphemes in three languages of Sulawesi: Balantak a, Muna o and Tolaki o=, with the latter two displaying an unusual interaction between syntactic and prosodic features. I simply refer to these morphemes as articles for lack of a better...


Austronesian languagesSulawesiIndonesiaBalantakMunaTolakimorphemesarticlessyntaxprosody
  • Year: 2012
  • Volume: 10
  • Page/Article: 208-227
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd195
  • Published on 31 Jul 2014
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